Explain The Main Forms Of Utilitarianism

989 words - 4 pages

Carys Jones 26th March 2014EXPLAIN THE MAIN PRINCIPLES OF CLASSICAL FORMS OF UTILITARIANISMUtilitarianism is the idea that the greatest good for the greatest number, so the action that causes the most number of people, pleasure or happiness. It is a teleological theory of ethics, as it is more concerned with the outcome rather than the act. It is also relative and subjective. Utilitarianism is a consequentialist theory as it decides whether an action is good or bad depending on its consequences. There are two main utilitarianism theories - Jeremy Bentham, who illustrated the idea of pleasure, and John Stuart Mill who illustrated the idea of happinessJeremy Bentham developed his theory on the idea of pleasure and based it on ancient Hedonism. Hedonism is the view that pleasure is the chief 'good' and pursues physical pleasure and avoiding pain. Pleasure differs from happiness as pleasure is a short-term feeling, whereas happiness is long term contentment. Bentham believes that the best act maximises pleasure and minimises pain, bringing the greatest amount of pleasure possible. Jeremy Bentham's theory of utilitarianism is considered as act utilitarianism as it focuses on the act. The situation is taken into account when determining the morality, and from this general rules can be derived.Bentham begins his theory with the principle of utility, which is the theory of usefulness - the greatest good for the greatest number. Through the principle of utility, Bentham developed a way to establish whether something was good or bad on the basis of the amount of benefit it caused for the largest number of people. His theory is therefore qualitative, as it focuses on the quantity of people that are caused pleasure.Bentham created a way of measuring the good and bad effects of an action, through the hedonic calculus. Through this method, Bentham was able to determine the morality of an action and whether it would result in the most pleasurable outcome. It consisted of seven elements. It starts with the intensity of the pleasure (how deep). The more intense the pleasure is, the more valuable the act. Secondly, the duration of the pleasure caused. Short bursts of pleasure are less valuable than lasting pleasure. Long lasting periods of pleasure caused by an act is more preferable than short periods of pleasure. The certainty of pleasure is also important. The certainty criterion refers to the probability of pleasure resulting from an act. If you choose between an action which might cause pleasure and one that will definitely cause the desired pleasure, then you go with the action where the pleasure will definitely occur. The hedonic calculus follows on to advocate the remoteness of the pleasure (how far or near). The more distant the benefits, in either space or time, the less weight we should give to them when making our decisions. The chance of succession is also significant. If the pleasure the act causes is likely to be followed by more happiness, then the...

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